Sexual Offenders don’t have a one-size fits all description. They can’t be categorized into one gender, rank or personality and many of them will reportedly assault 300 to 600 victims in their lifetime and never get caught.
During the Sexual Harassment Assault Response Program (SHARP) Summit, these were the statistics that were presented to senior leadership throughout 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center, last week.
Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock, commanding general, hosted the event themed: Shaping A Culture of Trust. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.
“The American people trust us with their sons and daughters and hold us with the expectation that we will care for them,” said Matlock.
“Everyone is empowered to intervene and stop sexual harassment and sexual assault. I challenge each of you to be aware before another Soldier, Civilian or Family Member becomes a victim of sexual violence.”
Russell Strand, who served as the guest speaker, approached leaders with hard-hitting facts, and visual messages to stress the severity of sexual assault and how everyone has to take a stand in fostering change.
“Empathy starts right here, leadership is vital, the command climate is vital. We have to stop the chaos that has become a normal in our sexist culture,” he added.
Throughout the summit, Strand challenged leadership to encourage engagement and train warriors on how to fight against sexual harassment. He stressed the need for everyone in the room to take ownership.
“Today’s summit is not about sexual assault- its’ always been about who we are, and who we say we are. It’s about enforcing and embracing the Army values. Our desire to make a change has to be greater than our desire to stay the same.”
Sgt. 1st Class Erica Stewart, SHARP Program Lead assigned to 1st Armored Division, said the summit clearly called everyone to take action.
“This is not a women’s issue, or a men’s issue but a human issue, she said. “As leaders, we need to interact with our Soldiers now more than ever, take the Litmus test and see where we need to improve,” said Stewart.
Who is covered by the SHARP Program?
-Soldiers and their dependents 18 and older
-Soldiers who reported being sexually abused prior to enlistment
-Army National Guard and Reserve Members
-Department of Defense civilian employees and their dependents 18 and over (including overseas assignments)
-U.S. citizen Department of Defense contractor personnel and their employees when accompanying the Armed Forces overseas.
This month, leadership will continue to highlight educational SHARP events throughout the installation including Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Freedom Crossing food court where SHARP representatives will distribute information and share community resources.